Anger and how children express it is always an intereting issue to discuss about. Along the way, I collected some familiar phrases that parents and caregiver love to say when they see the little ones angry:
“It is not good to be angry”
“You’re too young to get angry. What do you know about stress? ”
“If you keep on getting angry, the devil will keep you as his children”
“God doesn’t like angry children”
“I will report you to your teacher for being angry today”
And so many more.
Maybe most of us, the adults, have forgotten that we also had numerous angry moments when we were young and still unable to express ourselves in a more appropriate way. Sadly enough, we put our adulthood cap and glasses to our children when they started to express their anger.
Anger is a normal emotional expression. Everyone is experiencing anger every now and then. Especially when their norm or values are being crossed by other people. Anger is also a mask for small children to hide deeper emotional burdens. When they feel embarrassed and no-one notice it, they may burst into anger. When they feel sad over big issues, they may express it by being angry.
It is important to always sit down with your children whenever they have passed their storm of anger and figure out of what had happened. We do that with our children, but more often we sit down to advise them – that it is not good to be angry. We tend to forget to deal with the roots. And it is like expecting for another cycle of storm to strike.
How to deal with angry children?
1. Depending on the age of your children. The younger the age, the shorter period of you to “talk and advise” them. The more mature age group has bigger windows of discussion and setting the values.
For young children, use the bedtime storytelling as a way to share the appropriate ways of expressing their anger. Choose the related books and prepare yourself with the process. You can pick one of the recent angry moment (or they will forget!) and tell them of how it affect others, especially when your children are very into physical attack – hitting, kicking, biting or hurting others.
For bigger children, it is important to teach them the alternatives of expressing their feelings, including anger. Introduce them journaling activities, free drawing, sports or other possible activities that they can relate to themselves. By teaching children that they do HAVE ALTERNATIVES, they will feel empowered to take the appropriate move when they feel angry.
2. When you see your children are angry, give them the “space”. For young children, simply carry then out from the original situation that cause the meltdown, and bring them into someplace safe – so they can cry, shout or scream their lung out. You don’t have to stare at them, but be sure that they do not hurt themselves or throwing things around them away. Once after this storm has passed, then you can start talking to them.
3. Discussion time. It is not a judgment moment! It is a good time for you to help your children in recognizing their feelings, name them correctly and teach them to express their feelings in a more appropriate way. Tell them that angry is a normal feeling that own by all of us. But the problem lays on how they express your anger.
4. Be a living model. If you as parents kick the door when you’re angry and you do it “unconsciously” in front of your children, then you put them at-risk of adopting the same approach. You may call it unconscious, because the option has been so embedded inside of you. Time for you to change your approach and living as a role model for your children. Anger management is not a battle for certain people, it is a battle for all of us.
5. Don’t forget to tell your children that they are loved and worthy. The assurance of being loved and worthy will always serve as good foundation for your children to change their negative behaviors and adopt the more appropriate ways of dealing with their anger.
Keep up the good work, parents!